JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018 • VOL. 12 — NO. 2
► State, city officials debate best ways to regulate short-term rentals PAGE 4 ► Touring theater company for seniors eyes expansion PAGE 20
Young eyes on MLK
POP SECRETS OF A SNACK FAVE | P6
New Buckhead councilmembers lay out plans for their first terms BY EVELYN ANDREWS firstname.lastname@example.org
Isabella McEwen, 5, reads about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Atlanta History Center’s MLK Day program on Jan. 15. See more photos of the center’s programs on p. 22 ►
The two new Atlanta City Council members sworn in in early January to represent parts of Buckhead said they are looking forward to overseeing initiatives to improve water infrastructure, reduce traffic congestion, expand MARTA and build multiuse trails. J.P. Matzigkeit was elected to represent District 8, which includes most of Buckhead west of Roswell Road. Jennifer Ide was elected to represent District 6, which includes the Lindbergh area in Buckhead. Matzigkeit, a Chastain Park neighborhood resident and an avid cyclist, said providing bike lanes is an important way to decrease traffic congestion, but he agreed with the decision to not install bike lanes on Peachtree Road. “As a cyclist, I do not want to ride on Peachtree Road, even in a bike lane. With the number of curb cuts and the amount of traffic that is on the road, that is not See NEW on page 23
OUT & ABOUT
Bring on the bagpipes! 1,500 expected in Tartan Trot run Page 16
As an artist myself; I fully support art as a core in civic identity. Construction and traffic are my only main concerns preand post-completion. Is Sandy Springs’ arts-oriented civic center a smart play? See COMMENTARY, Page 10
BeltLine, Ga. 400 park could be funded by selftaxing residences BY EVELYN ANDREWS email@example.com
Creating a student-operated cafe at North Springs High Page 8
Residential property owners could tax themselves to help pay for such projects as the Atlanta BeltLine and the park over Ga. 400 under proposed new state legislation. The concept is essentially a residential version of community improvement districts, where businesses band together to tax themselves, often for transportation or beautification projects. BuckSee BELTLINE on page 15
2 | Community M OUN TA I N WAY C OMMON PA RK EXPAND ING WI TH L A N D DON ATION
Mountain Way Common, a developing park in the North Buckhead neighborhood near PATH400 and Little Nancy Creek, will expand after land was donated to the park. Mid Broadwell Partnership, the estate of Jack Bradford and Gordon Mosley, has donated a 0.56-acre parcel at the corner of N. Ivy Road and Mountain Drive, creating an opportunity to add new features to the park, according to a press release from Livable Buckhead, the organization that facilitated the donation. “The community has wanted to add this land to Mountain Way Common for years,” said Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, in a press release. “Its location across the street from the main gateway makes it a perfect place to add a feature that invites people into the park and raises its overall visibility. We are really grateful to Mid Broadwell Partnership for this donation.” Livable Buckhead will help the Friends of Mountain Way Common group integrate the space into the existing park. The conceptual plan for the park developed in 2012 suggests this parcel be used for a playground, gathering and eating space and restroom facilities, according to the press release. The expansion of Mountain Way Common is the latest acquisition in pursuit of the Buckhead Collection plan’s goal of 106 acres of additional greenspace. The Buckhead Collection, initiated by District 7 Councilmember Howard Shook, is the plan to increase greenspace in Buckhead. Livable Buckhead is implementing the plan, and has added approximately 34 acres of greenspace since 2011, according to the press release.
PAR K PR ID E AWA RDS GRA N TS TO TWO LO CAL PAR KS
Two Buckhead parks have received at least $50,000 each from Park Pride, the nonprofit announced. The Atlanta Memorial Park Conservancy, which was awarded a Legacy Grant, will create a nature trail through Atlanta Memorial Park with footbridges and a boardwalk. The project also includes rain gardens, landscaping, and drainage improvements, as well as the transformation of a gravel area into an open lawn, according to Park Pride. The Friends of Channing Valley Park also received a Legacy Grant and will use the funds to replace aging play equipment and add seating to create a safe and engaging play space for the neighborhood, according to Park Pride.
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State lawmakers preview upcoming legislation at Buckhead Council BY EVELYN ANDREWS firstname.lastname@example.org
Two local state legislators, Rep. Beth Beskin and Rep. Deborah Silcox, said they plan to tackle property tax increases during this session of the General Assembly. The two Republican state representatives previewed legislation they have introduced or plan to introduce during the Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting, PHOTOS BY EVELYN ANDREWS giving the most attention to Rep. Beth Beskin was one of the featured speakers at the Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. plans to limit property tax increases following drastic property assessments increases seen by some residents in 2017. Rep. Deborah Silcox, who represents portions of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, said while she and Beskin hope to pass legislation that would limit how much property tax increases can rise in Atlanta, it won’t become effective until after the 2018 assessments are sent out because it would have to be ratified by voters during the November election. It will also have to approved by the majority of the 15-member Atlanta delegation in the legislature, meaning they’ll have to get some Democrats on board. “Unfortunately, it gets caught up in partisan politics,” Beskin said. They also hope to eventually have a senior school property tax exemption, but both said it is unrealistic to expect to pass both at the same time. “In reality, we’re not going to get them both at the same time,” Beskin said. Tom Tidwell, the chairman of the Buckhead Council, urged the legislators to take action, as he feels many are not doing much to address concerns residents have about rising property taxes. “We’ve got a train wreck coming towards us, and no one really sees the urgency,” Tidwell said. Silcox noted she is also working to pass legislation that would put setting limits on what times fireworks could be set off in the control of local governments. The power to set the time they can be set off is currently held by the state, but Silcox said it has become an issue in the area and the local governments should be able to limit it. She also plans to introduce legislation that would address human trafficking, she said. They both said they expect hate crimes legislation introduced by Rep. Meagan Hanson (R-Brookhaven) to pass and they support it over an alternative bill introduced by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus. Both bills seek to add enhanced punishments for crimes based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability and physical disability, but the Black Caucus’s version calls for more “extreme” punishments, including longer sentences, Silcox said. They also expect legislation aimed at making adoptions easier that failed at the last-minute last year to pass this session now that a controversial amendment would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children with LGBTQ families has been removed from the bill. “I was very pleased to see that was taken out,” Silcox said. “Studies have shown children do far better in a loving home regardless of the arrangement.”
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Rep. Deborah Silcox speaks at a Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting, seated beside the chairman of the organization, Tom Tidwell.
JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018
Community | 3
4 | Community
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State, city officials debate best ways to regulate short-term rentals BY JOHN RUCH
into effect late last year. Now it is considering ways to expand and refine regulations, possibly including a mandatory short-term rental registration system and the hiring of a company for $21,000 a year to keep track of them. At the Jan. 2 Sandy Springs City Council meeting, Mayor Rusty Paul said such regulations have complexities the city is still considering. “It’s a balancing act,” he said. Dollar said that it remains to be seen whether any state law will be passed in what is expected to be a short legislative session. But some kind of legislative reckoning is likely coming, he said, “just like we did with Uber and all those other things. Technology is forcing us to address these questions.”
As cities grapple with how to regulate short-term rental services like Airbnb, state legislation that would have reduced local control is getting a rewrite after pressure from Atlanta and Sandy Springs, among other jurisdictions. House Bill 579, introduced last March, would have prohibited cities from banning short-term rentals and limited local regulations. In Sandy Springs, where leaders are considering a new regulatory system, the city’s top planning official called the bill “frightening” and “dangerous,” and the city of Atlanta says it is “actively monitoring” the bill to ensure local control. The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta), whose District 45 includes Sandy Springs’ northwest corner. He said the bill was a “conversation-starter” and is getting a rewrite. “The new bill will look very different,” he said, and likely will propose different types of short-term rental regulations for different types of housing and areas. That still leaves the big question of what those regulations will be, at both the state and local levels, where the issues are complicated and governments take varying approaches.
A mansion at 4205 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in Buckhead as it appears in Airbnb listings that have drawn citations from the city of Atlanta, which the owner says are unfounded.
For cities like Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody, which largely address shortterm rentals through hotel and bed-andbreakfast sections of their zoning codes, statewide legislation could alter the playing field. “We are actively monitoring the bill and will work with our partners to ensure the
city has the ability to locally legislate on the subject matter in the interests of the public health, safety and welfare,” said Alnissa Ruiz-Craig, a city of Atlanta spokesperson. For Sandy Springs, timing could be important. The city just formally allowed short-term rentals to operate for the first time in its new zoning code, which went
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Community | 5
Short-term rentals have been especialterm rentals on the market in Georgia. Rep. Dollar notes that many “mom and pops” ly controversial in big cities, where they can rent out beach houses, mountain cabins act as significant competition with hotels and lakeside properties around the state, while avoiding the same taxes and regulawhich are accepted parts of local econotions. There are also concerns that shortmies. term rentals inflate local housing mar“Local governments kets, making it harder for are dealing with it in diflong-term residents to afferent ways,” amounting ford housing. In 2014, to a “big kind of hodgethe tourist-heavy city of podge,” Dollar said. The Savannah, Ga., cracked general intent of HB579, down on short-term renthe said, is to reduce “unals as zoning violations. certainty” for properLittle attention has ty owners and the shortbeen drawn to shortterm rental industry, and term rentals in sub“level the playing field” urbs and outlying urban with regular hotels and neighborhoods, where motels — and the taxes Jim Tolbert, Sandy Springs’ there likely aren’t such assistant city manager. they are required to pay. large-scale market imBut Tolbert, the Sanpacts and homeowners can often rent with dy Springs planning chief, said the legislamore privacy. But other concerns about tion was “frightening” and could be “taking short-term rentals are still possible, such as my authority to deal with these folks away.” absentee owners, misbehaving guests or viHe said the “most dangerous” part of the olations of condo rules. bill was that it would allow short-term rentJim Tolbert, Sandy Springs’ assistant al companies to pay local hotel/motel taxcity manager in charge of planning, told his es on behalf of their users without disclosCity Council that shorting where exactly any of term rentals can bring in those properties are. taxes and serve tourists Tolbert and his staff on the positive side. But are proposing several on the negative side, he changes to the legislative added, they can “replace proposal. Some ideas inlong-term residents and clude: requiring a shorttenants,” “alter neighborterm rental property’s hood character,” and creowner to live in the propate parking and safety erty the majority of the problems. time; requiring a business Tolbert said that in license and posting of November, he found 211 Rep. Matt Dollar. any city noise ordinance; short-term rentals offered and banning short-term in Sandy Springs via 10 different online rentals in subsidized housing units. companies. In 2016, a Reporter Newspapers Those ideas dovetail with additions Tolreview of listings on the services Airbnb bert suggests for the city code, such as reand Corporate Housing By Owner found quiring registration of all short-term rental dozens of local listings. Some of them were properties, with “detailed records” providthe type that concern city officials, such as ed to the city, and requiring all parking to a Buckhead “party house,” apartments bebe on-site. ing sub-rented against management’s rules, Two other local state representatives, and a Perimeter Center condo that had Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) and Deborah Silcox served solely as a short-term rental invest(R-Sandy Springs), said they have not taken ment property since 2010. a position on the legislation, but added that Certain properties have drawn city cithey have concerns. tations and neighborhood criticism in the “I am aware of a few homes here in my past two years. A prominent example is district that are the subject of a lot of neigha mansion at 4205 Peachtree-Dunwoody bor concern,” said Beskin, who represents Road in Buckhead that drew criticism for part of Buckhead. hosting a concert without the owner’s “I’ve got a lot of questions,” said Silcox, knowledge, then received a cease-and-deincluding the bill’s exemptions for “private sist notice from the city after noise comentities.” plaints, but remained in operation. Owner Dollar said he has spoken briefly with Paul McPherson said he was unfairly tarPaul, the Sandy Springs mayor, about the geted for past or nonexistent issues. issue. “I understand their position … SanIn Brookhaven, where Airbnb co-founddy Springs, it’s one of a handful [of cities] er Joe Gebbia Jr.’s father is a member of across the state that are addressing the the City Council, a house at 1302 Brooklashort-term rental issue,” Dollar said. wn Road drew city Code Enforcement at“The takeaway is, I am working on new tention for allegedly serving as a full-time language and I am working with all intershort-term rental property, which the ownested parties,” he said. er has disputed.
The legislative debate
But those aren’t the only types of short-
– Evelyn Andrews and Dyana Bagby contributed
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6 | Food & Drink
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Popcorn Palooza BY DYANA BAGBY email@example.com
Popcorn lovers Keith Gispert and Sandra Cox of Brookhaven worked in the medical sales field for many years, traveling the country, where they would specifically visit popcorn shops to try out some of their favorite snack. “We both remember being in a shop, looking at each other and saying, ‘We can do this,’” Gispert said. And so they are doing it. Popcorn Palooza was created in 2014 and now has a brickand-mortar spot at Keth Gispert and 5071 Peachtree Sandra Cox. Blvd., Suite 350, in Chamblee, just over the Brookhaven border, where they sell dozens of flavors such as parmesan garlic, red velvet, white cheddar, cotton candy and many more. The storefront is only open on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. because most of the business currently caters specifi-
cally to corporate and special events. Gispert answered the following questions about their business.
What inspired you to go into gourmet popcorn?
[Sandra and I] were both were in the medical sales field for many years. We had the opportunity to travel many places and tried several different popcorn shops. We both remember being in a shop, looking at each other and saying, “We can do this…” Here we are several years later.
How do you come up with the different flavors? What is involved in the process?
We come up with
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different flavors through experimentation. There have only been a couple of flavors we tried that did not work to our liking, but nearly everything has worked out well. We have our core offerings at this point, but can always make other flavors for special occasions. Some people request special flavors for events, weddings, etc. We use commercial equipment for everything. Our process is different for our savory flavors versus our sweet/chocolate flavors. The savory flavors are an easier process, where we combine blends of cheeses and spices in a large commercial mixing bowl that turns and combines everything. The amounts of cheeses and spices has all been trial and error to get to the flavor profile we feel is best. The one thing we pride ourselves on is not using powder cheeses. The taste of our product versus a powder cheese popcorn is rather evident. The sweet and chocolate flavors are made by mixing everything in our large commercial equipment. The ingredients go in the heat kettle and it is a longer process. Again, we have tried many varieties/ amounts of certain ingredients we combine to get to the final product. We definitely go with flavor combinations that we know work, like peanut butter and milk chocolate, hot wings and blue cheese, etc. We both love cooking shows and have gathered ideas by flavor combinations we see on Food Network. Lots of trial and error to get to where we are.
How is the gourmet popcorn business doing overall? Is it gaining in popularity, and if so, why?
A: The business is doing well. There was
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corn when you go to the movies?
I have always purchased popcorn when attending the movies. Sandra would eat it sometimes, but not all of the time. Popcorn and the movies, the two just go together. I would not be telling the truth if I said we never bring our own popcorn to the movies. Let’s just say it has snuck itself in a time or 20.
Q: Can you eat regular popcorn anymore?
Or are you tired of popcorn when “off the clock” and like to eat other fun snacks?
We do eat regular popcorn here and there, but prefer to eat something we have created. People always ask us if we are tired of it, but we simply have too many options and flavor profiles to get sick of it. We definitely have our favorite snacks/treats. We are both on the same page when we say our favorite snacks outside of popcorn are donuts for me and ice cream for Sandra, but we definitely limit those treats.
Q: Why locate in Chamblee? A: Chamblee is growing like
crazy. There is a ton of development and great places coming to the community. We really enjoy the people and this location is rather convenient to where we live in neighboring Brookhaven.
Q: Who buys gourmet popcorn? A: Many people buy gourmet popcorn.
We like to say our age demographic ranges from about age 3 to 90 years old. The key point with our product is getting people to try it. I can say with great confidence that it is nearly impossible for someone to not really enjoy at least one flavor we offer. We truly have something for everyone. Oreo, caramel sea salt, parmesan garlic, peanut butter milk chocolate, Hotlanta con limon (a cheese blend with lime and hot spices), white chocolate pretzel and more. There is something for everyone. We have broken into the corporate world pretty well and that makes up a large portion of our clients. This is a great and fun option for employee appreciation, catering events, weddings and parties.
5071 Peachtree Blvd., Suite 350 Chamblee popcornpalooza.com
definitely a learning curve over the first couple of years. We feel like we have figured out the best model for us and things are growing. Our product speaks for itself. People seem to love our product and we take pride in that. We value our loyal customers and look forward to growing our business in 2018.
Do you eat concession stand pop-
Key lime pie popcorn bowl.
JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018
Food & Drink | 7
Quick Bites DUNWOODY FARMERS MARKET SET TO OPEN APRIL 18
The Dunwoody Farmers Market is set to open on April 18 at Brook Run Park after local volunteers partnered with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and city officials to create the new offering. The city at one time had a for-profit farmers market, but it closed after not being able to find a permanent location. The new farmers market is nonprofit and is under the DHA’s umbrella, much like the DHA’s Food Truck Thursdays also held at Brook Run Park. The Dunwoody Farmers Market will take place Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning April 18 and continuing through Oct. 27.
More information can be found at facebook.com/dunwoodyfarmersmarket.
ZOË’S KITCHEN COMES TO SANDY SPRINGS; DANTANNA’S, CT COCINA CLOSE
Zoë’s Kitchen, a fast-casual Mediterranean chain, opened this month in the new Plaza at City Springs shopping center at 5840 Roswell Road, Suite 300. For more information, see zoeskitchen.com. Meanwhile, two restaurants in Sandy Springs’ Abernathy Square shopping center closed in January. The upscale sports bar Dantanna’s closed its doors Jan. 9. No reason was given on its website or through social media. Dantanna’s, with other locations in Buckhead and downtown, was located in the Abernathy Square shopping center at Roswell and Abernathy roads for about four years. It replaced an Ap-
plebee’s that was located at the site. CT Cocina & Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant, also closed in early January after being open for about one year.
PO NTO O N B R EWING NO W O PEN IN SANDY SPRI NG S
Pontoon Brewing celebrated its official grand opening the weekend of Jan. 12 with a ribbon cutting, tours, live music, food trucks and, of course, plenty of craft beer. Located at 8601 Dunwoody Place Building 500, Suite 500, it is Sandy Springs’ first brewery. CEO Sean O’Keefe told Reporter Newspapers in October that the business owners looked at 40 buildings in areas as far as Carrollton, Acworth, Smyrna and the West End BeltLine. “We finally found the location we are in today because of the great proximity to the Chattahoochee [River], the amount of traffic and businesses in Sandy Springs
Not all mind expanding experiences are illegal
and the welcoming city. We thought Sandy Springs was a great location,” O’Keefe said.
B UR G ER KI NG I N DUNWO O DY V I L L AG E C LO S ES
The Dunwoody Village Burger King, which long doubled as the site for school groups and other organizations to hold car washes for fundraisers, closed its doors Jan. 5 after 30 years of serving Whoppers and fries. The fast food restaurant’s parcel was recently sold to Brand Properties, owners of the Shops of Dunwoody, who have listed the site for lease, according to City Councilmember Terry Nall.
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8 | Education
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Monica Brown, North Springs Charter High School Monica Brown, a special education teacher at North Springs Charter High School, helped create a school café operated by her students. She was awarded “Teacher of the Month” by the Sandy Springs school for her work creating the café in October. “It was a huge project undertaking with hard work, determination and patience with this process,” she said of the project. A teacher for 15 years, Brown is in her second year of teaching special education at North Springs, which created its CBI, or Community Based Instruction program, two years ago. “I am extremely elated about the new CBI program here at North Springs Charter High School. There are endless activities, programs and classes the students can participate in as a new high school student,” Brown said.
Q: Why did you decide to have your students run a cafe?
The Coffee Shop Program has been around in Fulton County for the CBI Program for some years. This program is designed to teach real life, functional, social, personal finance and transition skills to high school special needs students. The students operate a real business (a coffee shop)
in the school. Students operate a cash register, make change, fill recipes, deliver coffee, restock, talk to customers, clock in and lots more. There is no better way to teach job skills than to practice them in a real-world setting. The Spartan Café Express is doing a phenomenal job this school semester.
How is the café program going and how have the students responded to it?
The program is going great! The entire North Springs Charter High School is so excited about Spartan Cafe Express. The interaction amongst one another is exciting and friendships are made. The students have built great relationships with the other peer students. The staff and teachers are excited to receive their first cup of coffee and tea in the morning. This is such a wonderful delight in the morning. The students are loving it and excited! This is really a historical moment for our students. They have left a legacy, that’s for sure. I get a joy to see them prepare coffee, deliver and greet staff members and teachers each day.
Q: Do you enjoy your role in the new CBI
Monica Brown stands with students as they prepare to cut the ribbon on the Spartan Café Express in November 2017.
I truly enjoy my role as the CBI lead teacher of my classroom. The CBI scholars are growing, learning and having fun at the same time. I am extremely elated about the new CBI program here at North Springs Charter High School as the special needs population is growing within our communities. Now that the CBI program is up and running at North Springs Charter High School, students are able to go to their home school. There are endless activities, pro-
grams and classes the students can participate in as a new high school student. Students are learning and working towards building independence and employability skills while working in the coffee shop.
What attracted you to teaching at
After working with students and volunteering with the Special Olympics for several years as a recreation therapist, I later became interested to go back to school and pursue my Masters in Special Education as special education continues to grow within our nation and throughout our communities. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I have always had a passion and love for working with children and young adults with special needs. I see myself as a teacher, role model, friend and also a parent. I am truly living out my purpose, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Q: What do you want to see in your students?
I want to see my CBI students transition after graduating into a college, community college or even a work program to get started. I would love to see them working in the community by taking every job skill learned from my class. I want to see them be successful in their career, skill or even managing in their own business.
Q: What keeps you going year after year? A: My love and passion for my students keep me going. They have a will to learn and succeed in their work as they continue to grow and glow each day. They have a spirit of not giving up. This is what keeps me going and wanting to teach them more the next following year.
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Editor’s note: Through our “Exceptional Educator” articles, Reporter Newspapers showcases the work of some of the outstanding teachers and administrators at our local schools. If you would like to recommend a teacher or administrator to be the subject of an Exceptional Educator article, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net.
Education | 9
JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net
Fulton Board of Education to vote on Riverwood designs
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A rendering shows the final design for the new Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, which includes an auditorium, gymnasium, media center and cafeteria.
BY EVELYN ANDREWS firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fulton County Board of Education is set to vote on designs for the next phases of Riverwood International Charter School construction among concerns about changing the driveway at Heards Ferry. The $80 million project would build an entirely new school, including an auditorium, gymnasium, media center, cafeteria and classrooms. The first two floors of a classroom building and a baseball field have already been completed. Meanwhile, the school district is set to present the renovation plan for North Springs High at a Jan. 23 meeting amidst advocacy for an entirely new school, fueled in part by the new Riverwood campus. The board heard details on the next phases at its Jan. 9 work session, ahead of its regular board meeting set for Jan. 18. The concept designs for the entire Sandy Springs school and the site plan have not changed significantly since originally presented in 2015, Robert Sussenbach, the architect working on the designs said at the work session, which was broadcast on the board’s website. “This is pretty much what we showed you several years ago, and we’re trying to stay consistent with that,” Sussenbach said. Officials won’t be able to say whether or not the project is set to stay on budget until the board meeting, as final costs are still being determined, Patrick Burke, the chief operating officer of the Fulton County School District said during the work session. Some board members, including Katie Reeves, who represents District 2, brought up concerns about limiting the use of the driveway at Heards Ferry, which used to be heavily used but is now restricted to construction traffic and as a right-turn-only entrance. The main entrances are now located at Raider Drive. Reeves argued its safer to have multiple entrances and exits and questioned why one would be removed. Burke said the city of Sandy Springs has safety concerns about the driveway because of the curves on Heards Ferry and prohibited the driveway from continuing to be used as a full access entrance and exit. Construction of the school, located at 5900 Raider Drive, is split into seven phases. The first phase is the only phase that has so far been completed, which included the first two floors of a new building and a baseball field. The third floor of that building will be completed in the second phase, which is scheduled to begin next month and end in June. The contract for finishing the interior of the third floor is also set to be voted on at the board meeting. The construction is estimated to cost $2.8 million, according to the work session agenda. A cafeteria and media center will also be built during phase two. Other phases will include the addition of a gymnasium, an auditorium and expanded parking from 450 spaces to around 650. All construction is planned to conclude in January 2022, according to documents. The new school facilities are being built on the existing school grounds without shutting down any current classrooms or programs. Once the new facilities are built, the old ones will be demolished.
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10 | Commentary
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Community Survey / Is Sandy Springs’ arts-oriented civic center a smart play? With its new City Springs civic center, a $229 million facility set to open this year with a major performing arts center at its core, Sandy Springs aims to build its identity around the arts. Many respondents to the Reporter Newspapers’ latest 1Q.com survey say that’s a smart, forward-thinking move — though there is some disagreement about the cost. “I believe it adds great value and keeps the life in a city,” said a 58-year-old Sandy Springs woman, one of 200 respondents to the cellphone-based text survey of residents in communities served by the Reporter and our sister paper, Atlanta INtown. “Having this arts center will provide options for theater-going and generate revenue for the city. Keeping the arts alive is a way we can lead the younger generations and give them additional opportunities to learn more about their talents.” A 36-year-old Dunwoody woman said she couldn’t wait to join friends and family for shows at City Springs. “I love it!!,” she commented. “I think it’s a great add to our community.” “I live in Sandy Springs, so I’m all for it and the guests it will bring in,” a 53-year-old woman wrote. “I find it to be an incredible plan,” a 28-year-old Buckhead man commented. “I enjoy having various things to do around the Atlanta area, which includes art galleries, performances, attending the symphony, as well as enjoying music. More options like these make living in this city more enjoyable.” And a 52-year-old Buckhead woman put it simply: “It’s a good play for Sandy Springs,” she said. There were some naysayers. “That’s what the city of Atlanta is for. Not Sandy Springs,” said one 23-year-old respondent. Meanwhile, a 32-year-old Atlanta man applauded Sandy Springs for outdoing his city: “Not refurbishing and breathing new life into the Atlanta Civic Center was a waste of a beautiful property and a key part of Atlanta’s heritage. Glad to hear Sandy Springs is picking up the torch to enrich their community.” A bigger split in opinion was whether such a civic center, built as a public-private partnership, is worth $229 million. “Too much money spent,” a 42-year-old Sandy Springs man commented. “Let the private sector do this.” Another Sandy Springs resident, a 33-year-old man, had similar questions. “While I appreciate the city building a performing arts center,” he wrote, “the price tag to complete [it] is very concerning and [I] wonder if those funds could have been better used elsewhere for the city.” Residents of communities near Sandy Springs also were concerned about the cost. “I think it’s a waste for the smaller cities to do this. There are plenty of arts venues and organizations in Atlanta already,” a 36-year-old Brookhaven man noted. A 46-year-old Buckhead man said the project represented “a lot of money that could be going elsewhere. [I] don’t agree.” But other respondents thought money invested in the arts would provide a good return to the community. “I’m in favor of it,” a 51-year-old Sandy Springs man said of the performing arts center. “It makes a town more attractive and raises property values.” “Arts and culture are key to a community’s growth and vitality and is a proven economic driver for long term growth,” said a 42-year-old Atlanta woman. When respondents were asked what would attract them to Sandy Springs for a show, answers varied widely. Concerts featuring popular music led the list, with 34 percent of the respondents expressing interest. Classical music drew the least interest, with only 2 percent of the respondents saying they would come to Sandy Springs for that type of concert.
What type of arts event is most likely to attract you to visit City Springs? Popular music (pop, rock, hip-hop, etc.)
(musical or dramatic)
34% 18.5% 7.5%
Children’s arts programs
Celebrity speaking tour
(classical or modern)
Classical music Other
Here’s what some other respondents had to say: “Great idea! The arts will enhance the cultural activities in the area.” — 27-year-old Atlanta woman “I believe arts are an important part of a community. The fact that Atlanta is doing pretty good on the arts front was a big reason for staying in the area.” — 39-year-old Atlanta woman “As an artist myself; I fully support art as a core in civic identity. Construction and traffic are my only main concerns pre- and post-completion.” — 25-year-old Buckhead woman “Feel like that money would be better spent in our schools and starting an appreciation for and attention to the arts early in life.” — 25-year-old Brookhaven woman
1Q is an Atlanta-based startup that has developed a technology which sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text message from businesses and organizations across the country. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting REPORTER to 86312. © 2018 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC.
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Commentary | 11
Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing up in Dunwoody, Kristen Hard loved to make things. “I was always into food, from the time I was a child,” she said recently. “I was always in the kitchen wanting to make stuff.” At the same time, “All I ever wanted was a chemistry set. I was really into science. I was really into invention.” “I think I kind of always had this brain where I have a balance with this obsession for science and for art,” she said. Jump forward a few years. In her 20s, Hard was working as a private chef on a yacht. During a stop in the Caribbean, she had an epiphany. The two sides of her brain came together when she discovered chocolate – real chocolate – came from the seeds hidden inside the fruit of a tropical tree and wasn’t simply concocted in a huge factory. “It blew my mind. It was like all these dots connected… like the stars aligned.” Hard set about learning how to make chocolate from scratch. She produced small batches of chocolate for herself and friends. She experimented. In 2004, she moved back to Atlanta and started selling her chocolate through farmer’s markets and street fairs. When Hard started out, she was among a handful of custom bean-tobar chocolate makers in the country, she said, and the only one in the southeastern U.S. Now her chocolates draw widespread attention. Notices from magazines such as Travel + Leisure, Food + Wine and Oprah decorate the walls of her office in her northwest Atlanta factory. Her company, Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co., makes luxury chocolate directly from cacao beans and sells scores of chocolate treats — such as $3 chocolate truffles and $8 chocolate bars and $21.50 Salame di Cioccolato, which looks like salami — through a Buckhead shop and a café in Virginia-Highland. Hard says she’s set her sights set on an even grander goal. She wants to make the best chocolate in the world. And maybe, in the process, help save chocolate itself for the future. After she got into the chocolate business, Hard said she discovered its problems. It’s a far-flung industry, with small farms in Central and South America and Africa and
manufacturers spread around the world. “I started understanding the industry and the corruption and the lack of quality,” she said. “Over the last 100 years, cacao has been bred [to increase] disease resistance and yield,” she said. “They have bred out flavors.” She decided that if she wanted to make the best chocolate in the world, she needed to work with the best raw materials. She went looking for better chocolate beans. She said she worked with cacao farmers and at one point even owned her own farm in Peru. She says she found what she wanted in old chocolate trees that produced fruit that is sweeter, not as bitter, “more elegant.” “I’m looking for the rarest, the less than 1 percent, cacao,” she said. “It exists. It’s really hard to find. It’s hard to find farmers who are growing it.” Hard said she’s now working to convince farmers to grow rare, heirloom varieties of cacao. At the same time, she wants to create a market that would allow those farmers to be able to afford to grow those varieties. “We basically have created a new market for cacao that has never been seen before,” she said. That means making chocolate that’s expensive. That doesn’t worry Hard. “Chocolate is a luxury,” she said. “A dark chocolate, fine chocolate, is a luxury. It’s not a foodstuff, like rice. It shouldn’t be treated like a commodity.” She also worries about finding ways to replace aging cacao farmers. Their chilSPECIAL dren are moving away or to Kristen Hard of other crops, she said, which Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. may mean real chocolate will grow even rarer, more expensive. “What happens when [the farmers] die?” she asked. She thinks it’s worth the struggle. “I am trying to redefine things so our children and children’s children will have this,” she said. “I just feel like there is a way to make a change in this world if you put your mind to it.”
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12 | Community
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Norwood questions Buckhead’s share of city improvements
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Mary Norwood, during what she dubbed “her first speech, unofficially after losing” the Atlanta mayoral race, urged Buckhead residents to press the new administration on whether the neighborhood is getting its fair share of city-funded improvements and whether south Atlanta residents are paying enough in property taxes. She also expressed concern those comments could be taken out of context by people who called her “racist” during the campaign. A spokesperson for new Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms later said Norwood’s comments “seemed designed to stoke division when we should focus on unity,” and that Bottoms will work to improve all neighborhoods in Atlanta. Norwood, a former at-large city councilmember from Buckhead who lost the mayoral race to Bottoms last month, was speaking at the Jan. 11 Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods meeting. Now a private citizen, she jokingly introduced herself to the group as “Mary Norwood, former a lot of things.” “My first speech, unofficially after losing, is: I love Buckhead, I love the whole city. I represented the whole city,” Norwood said. “But Buckhead needs to be thoughtful about how we are truly an important part of this city, and for that, there should be just some fairness.” That statement was received with an “amen” and other supportive remarks by members of the organization and others attending the meeting, where the official agenda was a legislative update from two Republican state representatives. She prefaced her remarks by noting that a reporter was in attendance and said she would phrase her speech “appropriately.” Norwood told the organization that it needs to pay attention to how much money Buckhead residents pay into the city versus how much city funding is spent improving the area. “I think the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, with a new administration, needs to be very proactive about money in, money out,” she said. “One thing y’all need to look at, guys, now that I’m not the mayor, is the three main funding sources,” she said, referring to the Renew Atlanta bond funds and the sales taxes funding MARTA and city transportation projects. “We need to be very thoughtful about supporting all these initiatives and where all that money is going.” Norwood also said some south Atlanta residents are not paying a proper amount in property taxes and said there are still plenty of affordable neighborhoods within the city. “Of course, we’ve got the inequity whatever,” Norwood said. “You’ve got a lot of issues with that. And a lot of issues with affordable housing. Well, let me tell you, ladies and genSPECIAL tleman, there are hundreds of neighborhoods in this town Mary Norwood. that are affordable. They just aren’t on the BeltLine.” “There is no gentrification in a whole lot [of] these areas,” she added. During her campaign, Norwood said she heard from supporters who are paying $50 in property taxes because their property assessments were never raised after the economy recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. “It’s not all of the city south of us, but there are big swaths of the city south of us, where because of the crash and mortgage fraud and all that stuff, people are paying $50 to live in the city,” she said. After the meeting, Norwood expressed concern her comments would be taken out of context, similar to what she says happened with remarks she made at a Buckhead Young Republicans meeting in 2017 that became an issue in the mayoral race. She said comments she made at the Young Republicans meeting were taken out of context and used against her by Bottoms. In those comments, she accused her opponent in the 2009 mayoral race, former Mayor Kasim Reed, of coercing votes from people who lived outside of the city. “They took the two words, ‘thugs’ and ‘felons,’ and said that that was the way that I referred to African-Americans,” Norwood said. “The audio says I was trying to help African FREE WEEK Americans not be coerced and threatened by thugs, which is what happened in . It was absolutely, 180 degrees from what I said.” Despite that, Norwood said, she still received about the same amount of votes from African American residents in south Atlanta. Anne Torres, a spokesperson for Bottoms, provided a written statement in response to Norwood’s comments. “Ms. Norwood’s comments are consistent with how she spoke and conducted herself on the campaign trail this past fall,” Torres wrote. “Her comments display a remarkable lack of understanding of the issues facing our city, and seemed designed to stoke division when we should focus on unity. Following her inauguration, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is moving forward with her progressive agenda focused on equity, affordability and mobility for all of Atlanta’s residents and neighborhoods.”
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JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018
Community | 13
Bottoms to keynote unity-themed Buckhead Coalition annual meeting BY JOHN RUCH firstname.lastname@example.org
New Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will deliver the keynote address at the Buckhead Coalition’s invitation-only annual meeting Jan. 31, in one of her first major appearances since her election last month. In a nod to the bruising electoral battle against Buckhead resident and former City Councilmember Mary Norwood, the event’s theme will be “Tying Atlanta Together,” according to Sam Massell, the coalition’s president and a former Atlanta mayor himself. He previewed a gift that he said all attendees will receive: a crystal statuette of a handshake. For Bottoms, it will be a victorious return to the event where she appeared a year ago with seven other candidates in a luncheon Massell had orchestrated as an unofficial mayoral campaign kickoff forum. It also will SPECIAL be a visit to a neighborhood that heavily faKeisha Lance Bottoms. vored Norwood, whom the Coalition had formally endorsed. Massell said the Coalition is keenly aware of the politics and manners involved in Bottoms’ visit, and of the city’s political divisions demonstrated by her razor-thin win — by less than 1 percent. “It seemed appropriate we should definitely be upfront about the importance of Atlanta being united,” said Massell. One person not invited to join in the unity: Norwood. That’s because “she’s not titled as such,” said Massell, as she is no longer a local elected official or leader of any notable company or agency. The Buckhead Coalition is an influential, invitation-only group of 100 area CEOs and community leaders. Its annual luncheon, held at the 103 West event facility on West Paces Ferry Road, is also invitation-only, though certain journalists are invited to covSPECIAL er it as well. The luncheon usually features a Sam Massell. prominent speaker, such as the 2016 keynote address by now former Mayor Kasim Reed. Gifts for guests are another tradition; last year’s was another unity gesture from Massell, a Democrat, to his largely Republican group membership: a copy of nowPresident Donald Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.”
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New Buckhead Heritage director plans to increase advocacy efforts BY EVELYN ANDREWS
Swan House and other prominent local buildings. Several Shutze mansions have been significantly renovated or demolished in recent years, but a problem is the number or location of the buildings is not known. The new director of the Buckhead Heritage Society, an organization that advoBoth previous directors of the Buckhead Heritage Society have started to make a cates for local history, said he plans to ramp up the organization’s awareness of enlist, but Waterhouse hopes to finally finish it, he said. dangered buildings. Waterhouse also plans to finish implementing the Master Interpretative Plan, Richard Waterhouse, a former Massachusetts muwhich was spearheaded by the society in 2014. The seum director and Georgia Public Broadcasting funplan, created with input from organizations such as draiser, has been hired to fill the executive director Livable Buckhead, the Atlanta History Center, the position, which was left vacant when former direcAtlanta Urban Design Commission and the city Detor Carmie McDonald resigned last year. He was introduced to the public at the organization’s holiday partment of Parks and Recreation, included recomfundraiser last month. mendations for several types of public art, including “What is key to our mission is to educate people historic billboards and “ghostlike” human-scale figon historic properties that make Buckhead what it is ures that represent people who lived in Atlanta detoday,” Waterhouse said. cades ago. Waterhouse said he is planning to put togethA sign installed in Charlie Loudermilk Park, er a “preservation task force” that can more closely which displays a 1943 photograph of the nearby watch for endangered historic properties. The orgaBuckhead Theatre aligned to overlap the view of tonization sometimes has been in the dark when word day’s building, was the first project completed from comes that historic properties could be altered or dethe plan. molished. The organization hopes to finish the next five “We are creating a preservation task force so we projects at the rate of one every two years, he said. can let Buckhead know of any sites that may be in danger,” he said. The future sites are Lenox Square, Blue Heron NaThe task force would develop a plan for action ture Preserve, Chastain Park, Atlanta Memorial Park when someone alerts them to an endangered properand the Department of Watershed Management’s ty, Waterhouse said, using the example of the former site at the Chattahoochee River and Peachtree Creek, National Library Bindery and Oxford, Too bookstore which was the former site of Fort Peachtree. building, which was named on the Georgia Trust for Waterhouse also hopes to implement more comSPECIAL Historic Preservation’s endangered list last year. Richard Waterhouse has been named the new executive munity engagement with the society. He plans to “This way when someone comes to us with condirector of the Buckhead Heritage Society. visit all 28 neighborhood organizations in Buckhead cerns about the book bindery, for example, we have a and offer them lectures on preservation. plan for that,” he said. The society is planning to partner with the Lovett School on a Native AmeriWaterhouse doesn’t know yet who could be named to this task force, and said the can history program exploring the Buckhead roots and history of the Cherokee and organization needs to raise enough money to fund it first. Creek Indians, Waterhouse said. Waterhouse also plans to put together a comprehensive list of all the buildings designed by Philip Trammell Shutze, the designer of the Atlanta History Center’s For more information, see buckheadheritage.com. email@example.com
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Community | 15
BeltLine, Ga. 400 park could be funded by self-taxing residences Continued from page 1 head’s central business district around Ga. 400 has a CID. The director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, which is spearheading the idea for the park over Ga. 400, said his organization is not lobbying for the legislation, but would welcome using the additional funds for the park, which is estimated to cost $250 million to construct. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. documents show that organization has been exploring the possible creation of an improvement district since at least 2015. The BeltLine is a planned 22-mile loop of multiuse trails, parks and public transit that would eventually run through south Buckhead and the Lindbergh area. Directors of the Perimeter CIDs and two downtown CIDs say their organizations have not been involved in this effort. State Rep. Beth Beskin, who represents part of Buckhead, said she knows the idea to create a new entity, called a special improvement district, or SID, capable of taxing apartments is being discussed by community and business leaders as a way to fund the park over Ga. 400 and the BeltLine. A CID is only allowed by law to tax commercial businesses, not commercial residential complexes, such as apartments. The new legislation, which is House Bill 642, would allow residential complexes to be taxed if it was approved by 51 percent of taxpayers in the proposed district. “I know there are some people who would like an SID to benefit and help fund the idea of the Park over 400 and the Atlanta BeltLine,” Beskin said. “There is a lot of support from the business community, not uniform support, but a lot who see this as a way to fund the park,” Beskin said. Beskin wouldn’t name who was discussing this as a way to fund the park or whether they currently sit on the board of the Buckhead CID. Jim Durrett, the executive director of the Buckhead CID, said the organization has not been pushing for this legislation, but would use it to fund the nonprofit that will control the park, which would be a 9-acre, half-mile-long park built atop a bridge-like structure over Ga. 400 between Lenox and Peachtree roads. “I am aware that there has been some work done. It’s not something that the BCID has been pushing for or funding,” Durrett said. The CID is in the process of creating a nonprofit that will build and run the park if it moves forward. “The project is currently being tranBH
sitioned to be controlled by an independent nonprofit. The CID in the future would be considering using this source to fund it. We’d use whatever funding mechanism available,” Durrett said. Some residents near the proposed park, including residents of MeridianBuckhead condos, have had concerns they could be taxed to fund the park since the first public meeting on the park. The manager of the complex did not return requests for comment. A 2017 Georgia State University study found that the Buckhead CID could bring in an additional $950,000 in revenue each year if all multifamily residential complexes within the current CID boundaries were taxed. Documents from Atlanta Beltline, Inc. show that the organization has been pushing for the creation of a special improvement district. Documents detail studies on the creation of a special improvement district to fund the construction of the BeltLine. One 2016 study found that commercial and residential properties along the BeltLine could contribute more than $100 million towards its construction. Other revenue would be directed to “public safety, operations and maintenance support and programmatic enhancements,” according to another document. ABI did not return requests for comment. The bill’s lead sponsor is Atlanta Rep. Pat Gardner. Gardner’s district includes parts of Midtown and southwest Atlanta where the BeltLine would be built or has already been constructed. Gardner did not return requests for comment. The Perimeter CIDs is a pair of jointly operated CIDs in Perimeter Center. Its director, Ann Hanlon, said her organization has not been pushing for the legislation. “Our focus remains on serving the needs of our commercial property owners in the district, and making sure that our investments improve access for the entire community,” Hanlon said in an email. A.J. Robinson, the president of the downtown CIDs, Central Atlanta Progress and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, said his organization is also not pushing for the legislation, but said he does hope CIDs will be able to tax residential developments in the future. “We do believe, however, that commercial multifamily rental developments in our district and other CID areas are receiving a free ride on services provided by taxpayers in these areas. We hope that this inequity will be remedied in the future,” Robinson said in an email.
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16 | Arts & Entertainment
Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News and artistic director Roni Koresh. $25 members; $38 community. MJCCA’s Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or 678812-4002.
Friday, Jan. 26 through Sunday, Feb. 18 Stage Door Players present the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Picnic,” by William Inge. The play is set on a Kansas Labor Day weekend in the joint backyards of two middle-aged widows whose families are disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious young drifter. $15$33. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Schedule and other info: stagedoorplayers.net.
Saturday, Feb. 3, events begin at 7:50 a.m. An anticipated 1,500 runners will gather to the sound of bagpipes to compete in the 2018 Tartan Trot 5K/10K race, which starts and ends at Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church. The Tartan Trot features two Peachtree Road Race qualifying races (8:30 a.m.) and is a walker-, stroller- and dog-friendly event with a 1-mile Fun Run (8 a.m.) and a Tot Trot (7:50 a.m.). $35 for the 5K/10K; $15 for the Fun Run. 1978 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: tartantrot.com.
KORESH DANCE COMPANY
Saturday Jan. 27, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 28, 5 p.m. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta presents the critically acclaimed Koresh Dance Company, founded by Israeli-born choreographer
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Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Beginner’s dance lesson 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp band fuel the music for a Mardi Gras party featuring everything from bluesy twosteps and waltzes to Creole tunes and zydeco. Authentic Cajun/Creole food for sale. Sponsored by the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association. $18. $14 active military. $5 students. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: aczadance.org.
JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018
Arts & Entertainment | 17
MY SILVERSNEAKERS FLEX
Ongoing Senior Stretch and Cardio & Strength classes are now in session at the Briarwood Recreation Center. SilverSneakers is a fitness program for adults ages 65-plus that comes free with qualifying health plans. Free. $5 per class for nonSilverSneakers members. 2235 Briarwood Way N.E., Brookhaven. Info: silversneakers.com/flex or brookhavenga.gov.
GO SHOPPING THE CATHEDRAL ANTIQUES SHOW
Thursday, Jan. 25 to Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Cathedral of St. Philip partners with the nonprofit Antiques Council for its festival of art, antiques and floral and interior design, benefitting A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab. Period furniture, jewelry, art and accessories will be for sale; lunch available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. $20 covers the three days. Additional costs for author talks, a Sunday tour of homes and other scheduled show events. 2744 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Info: cathedralantiques.org.
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DUNWOODY LIBRARY BOOK SALE
Thursday, Jan. 25 to Monday, Jan. 29. (Closed Sunday.) Members only: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Public hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. The Friends of the Dunwoody Library will hold a four-day book sale culminating with a Bag Day on Monday. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: 770-512-4640.
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AMERICAN GIRL AND BOY CLUB
Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Heritage Sandy Springs has rebranded its American Girl Club, which always welcomed all genders but only attracted girls, to reflect the inclusive nature of the program. This month, kids will learn about the history of country music with coed characters Logan and Tenney. Each monthly club meeting includes an activity, craft and snack. Kids are invited to bring their favorite doll. Best suited for ages 5 to 12. Advance registration recommended. $8 Heritage Sandy Springs members; $10 nonmembers; $15 at the door. 6075 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org. Click the education tab. Continued on page 18
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18 | Arts & Entertainment
Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 17
TOTALLY TU B’SHVAT
Wednesday, Jan. 31, 5 to 6:30 p.m. All are invited to the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta at Zaban Park for a celebration of the Jewish Earth Day featuring songs, activities, crafts, fruit and nut sampling and a Tu B’Shvat birthday cake. Free. 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Registration: atlantajcc.org. Info: Rabbi Brian Glusman at 678-812-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Saturday, Feb. 3, 6 to 8 p.m. This ninth annual event is open to all girls attending school in Sandy Springs (grades K-5) and their dads or father figures. A DJ will play music from both generations. Dance contests, musical games, complementary snacks and refreshments, keepsake photo, door prizes and a goodie bag for each girl. Business casual to semi-formal attire. $35 for father-daughter; $10 each additional daughter. Preregistration required by Feb. 2 or until the event is full at registration.sandyspringsga.gov. Spalding Drive Elementary School, 130 West Spalding Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: 770-730-5600.
STORYTELLING AUDITIONS FOR SENIORS
Wednesday, Jan. 24, and Wednesday, Feb. 7, 4 to 5 p.m. Seniors are invited to audition stories of their lives for a national living history initiative called “These Eyes Have Seen” (theseeyeshaveseen.com) during either of two events at local retirement communities. Free, with complementary food and beverages and live entertainment. The Jan. 24 event, featuring a presentation on the history of Dunwoody, is at Dunwoody Pines, 435 Georgetown Square, Dunwoody. RSVP by Jan. 23 to Traci Sherman at 770986-1100 or email@example.com. The Feb. 7 event, which features a presentation by Holocaust survivor Helen Weingarten, is at Hammond Glen, 335 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs. RSVP by Feb. 5 to Alicia Bartlett at 404-256-6300 or alicia.smith@ sunshineret.com.
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Saturday, Jan. 27, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Adult artists of all abilities are invited to the Blue Heron Nature Preserve for a natural science illustration workshop focused on trees. Drawing techniques such as modeling, contour and value building will be explored. For ages 18 and older. Preregistration required. Basic art supplies provided. $75. 4055 Roswell Road N.E., Buckhead. Info: bhnp.org.
FREE SPANISH CLASSES
Ongoing Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (beginners) and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (intermediate). Learn Spanish and refine your Spanish language skills at the Sandy Springs Library. Free. 395 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Info: 404-303-6130.
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JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018
Arts & Entertainment | 19
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival returns The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, a cinematic exploration of Jewish experience, is back for its 18th year of presenting films from around the world. This year’s event runs over 23 days, from Wednesday, Jan. 24 through Thursday, Feb. 15, at seven venues across metro Atlanta, including Sandy Springs’ Regal Perimeter Pointe and The Springs Cinema & Taphouse. Presented by AJFF, an independent nonprofit arts organization, the festival will feature more than 190 screenings, with 75 films from 27 countries. Filmmakers, academics, authors, critics and other guest speakers will engage with the audience before and after select screenings. Opening night and closing night festivities will take place at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Other venues include Regal Atlantic Station, Regal Hollywood 24, UA Tara Cinemas and Woodruff Arts Center. Here’s a preview of some of the film festival attractions:
“The Invisibles,” a docudrama about the teens and adults who survived World War II in Berlin hiding in plain sight.
“Let Yourself Go,” an
Italian comedy that features a self-involved psychoanalyst who has his tightly ordered world thrown for a loop by a high-spirited fitness instructor.
Tickets and other info: ajff.org.
“Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,”
a tribute to the iconic dancer, singer and actor. Kicks off opening night.
“Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds: The Conductor Zubin Mehta,” a film that celebrates the international career of a musical maestro.
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The Southeast premiere of “A Bag of Marbles,” an adventure about the endurance of family.
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20 | Arts & Entertainment
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Touring theater company for seniors eyes expansion BY JACLYN TURNER
ing there, Theatre-To-Go’s professional company travels to senior living comAfter a decade of bringing theater to munities, senior centers, churches and seniors, the Atlanta Theatre-To-Go travsynagogues, bringing a theatrical exeling company is making a big move of perience to seniors, its own, expanding from some of whom may its base in a Sandy Springs not be able to go to a house and hiring its first traditional theater. executive director. Three plays and “I am looking forward a musical are perto having more creative formed each year, time and to seeing my often written by lo“baby” blossom into its full cal playwrights, inpotential,” said founder cluding Ilgenfritz. Sondra Ilgenfritz, who has Beyond the 60 or so stepped down as president performances put to serve on the company’s on each year, TheSondra Ilgenfritz. board and devote more time atre-To-Go offers histoto playwriting. ry tours, and such interactive works as Lois Keopke, the new executive di“reminiscence theater,” where a memrector, has a resume that includes ory from a participant is turned into a forming a troupe of senior dancers to script, which is then performed in front perform at the Milwaukee Bucks basof family and friends. ketball team’s halftime shows. “We are ready for our next stage of “I’m really jazzed up about what I’m growth,” said Ilgenfritz. “For 10 years, doing and joining this organization,” we have been a largely volunteer-drivKeopke said. “Seeing what they are doen organization fueled by an entreing and bringing this joy to seniors, it’s preneur with a passion and a mission. really cool.” Thanks to generous sponsors and doFounded in 2007 in Ilgenfritz’s Sannors, we are now able to move into a dy Springs home and regularly rehearsprofessional business model with the funds to hire expert help. “I hope that Lois can create the type of buzz that makes Atlanta Theatre-ToGo a catalyst for other communities throughout our nation to harness and utilize the creativity of our seniors,” added Ilgenfritz, who will continue to serve on the company’s board. Koepke spent 22 years choreographing and creating halftime shows for the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks. She formed the “SeniorGee!” dance team in 2006, a group of dancers ranging in age from 60 to Your monthly guide 85 who auditioned and performed durto the city’s vibrant ing halftime, and calls it a highlight of INtown community! her career. She was inspired by a MiPick up a copy or ami Heat performance at an NBA Allread it online at Star game involving seniors, and adaptatlantaintownpaper.com ed it to her own. “They’d start with a classic routine, and then switch into hip hop. They brought the house down,” said Koepke. New Restaurant
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At right, Sandy Springs resident Sondra Ilgenfritz, president of Atlanta Theatre-to-Go, introduces some actors at during the company’s 2010 season.
well in order to continue the mission.” “They were the most popular entertainTheatre-To-Go rehearses and opment group I’ve worked with.” erates out of Ilgenfritz’s home, some“The work ethic was just awesome, thing that has worked smoothly for the and they just wanted to entertain,” Kolast 10 years, but Koepke would love to epke said of working with the dancers. have access to a rehearsal space or of“A piece of me says, I know what sefice space, perhaps in a community niors can do, and what they are capacenter. For one upcoming performance, ble of doing when they are jazzed about the company is rehearsing a Tucker the arts, and then actually perform it.” church. Koepke retired, but after a recent “My goal is to partner with an orgamove to metro Atlanta, she said, she nization that would like to serve as a wanted to get involved in her new comhome for Atlanta Theatre-To-Go. And I munity, and was interested in working say that very loosely, but with nonprofits. it could be a place where Koepke has expanwe rehearse and partner sion and upgrades in with them to give their mind for the theater residents free theater,” company, such as bringshe said. ing more technology to The company is curthe organization as well rently touring a musias creating a unifying cal comedy called “Evbrand. ery Day Is Tuesday,” with “It’s time to reach a stops including the Berbroader audience, and man Commons assisted my role is going to be living and memory care funding. I want to bring residences in Dunwoody. more performances to For more informamore places,” she said. tion, see AtlantaThe“I’m the one to make Lois Keopke. atreToGo.com. sure we function really
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Classifieds | 21
APARTMENT FOR RENT
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22 | Community
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Crowds celebrate MLK Day at the Atlanta History Center
A An estimated 4,500 visitors packed the Atlanta History Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a day of civil rights movement educational experiences. Attendance set a record for MLK Day at the History Center, one of four free admission days offered yearly at the venue. PHOTOS BY PHIL MOSIER
A. Claire Kelley, 3, daughter of Briteny Kelley (not pictured), creates a protest sign as part of an education program at the Atlanta History Centerâ€™s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. B. Visitors line up to create personalized protest signs.
C. Suzanne Stroup leads visitors in a discussion of the physical and emotional difficulties of the Freedom Riders activism. D. Young visitors take a defensive posture in a simulation of the Freedom Riders, where civil rights activists defied racial segregation on bus lines in the 1960s South and often were attacked by police, Ku Klux Klan members and other segregationists and white supremacists.
JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018
Community | 23
New Buckhead councilmembers lay out plans for their first terms Continued from page 1 a pleasant experience,” he said. “What I want to do is to have a great experience for people riding their bike and it’s not on Peachtree Road.” Matzigkeit, who works for a fitness technology company, said he hopes to advocate for bike lanes in the “right areas,” including the many wide side streets in his district, and create the right balance of multiuse paths and bike lanes. “We have a lot of wide roads that are side streets and not main arteries. Having bike routes and bike lanes there is an idea to have a good safe experience that is not on main arteries. But you have to get connected to trails, to the BeltLine, to the park and to schools so your kid can ride bikes,” he said. He also said he plans to look into ways to preserve older and historic buildings after some have been demolished in recent years. He plans to be heavily involved with the revising of the zoning and tree ordinances, which he hopes can curb infill housing. “One of the wonderful things about Atlanta is the charm of its neighborhoods and we have to preserve its neighborhoods,” Matzigkeit said. As chair of the utilities committee, Matzigkeit will prioritize modernizing and upgrading the city’s water infrastructure, which are prone to leaks and water main breaks, including a recent break that resulted in 2,000 residents and part of Phipps Plaza experiencing a water outage. “You think about how many highrises have gone up in Buckhead in recent years. You think that they’ve changed out the sizes of the water pipes? No, so you have so much more use put on older infrastructure that really wasn’t designed to support that. It’s going to be important that we are vigilant in making sure that we do have the right infrastructure for our city as we move forward and grow,” Matzigkeit said. Matzigkeit is optimistic about a major makeover of the former Bobby Jones Golf Course clubhouse at Atlanta Memorial Park. The proposal would renovate the now vacant clubhouse into a recital hall. It is the only proposal so far to create a new use of the historic clubhouse, but Matzigkeit said he isn’t concerned the idea could fall through. “The group has been very successful in raising money. I believe it’s going to be very successful,” he said. He is looking forward to working with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and said she has been receptive to learning about issues in District 8, a district that overwhelming voted for her opponent, Mary Norwood. “She was extremely interested in what the issues were in District 8 that were important to me. In fact, she took notes,” Matzigkeit said of a meeting he had with Bottoms. “I think that it’s important that she meet the people of District 8 and the people of District 8 meet our mayor. She’s our mayor and we need to all work together for the good of Atlanta and I look forward to working with her,” he said. Ide, whose district absorbed the recently annexed area around Emory University
and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she is hopeful the Clifton Corridor light rail project will now move forward quickly. “I think that there’s a good chance the Clifton Corridor MARTA rail project will go forward and move closer to the front of the line, which will be connecting the Emory campus to the Lindbergh MARTA Station,” she said. “It’s going to be complicated with how it has to run through some neighborhoods to get there, but I think that’s going to be a great opportunity for helping both relieve our traffic congestion and connecting jobs and people on transit.” Ide, an attorney and Morningside resident, is also excited to see the confluence of trails in the Lindbergh area continue to move forward. PATH 400, the BeltLine and South Fork Conservancy trails all connect in that area, and plans could potentially bring the BeltLine much sooner than expected. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. is negotiating with Georgia Power to possibly have the company facilitate some work on the BeltLine while it replaces power infrastructure, a plan Ide hopes continues to move forward. “It would be a great public private success story in my mind,” Ide said. She hopes the BeltLine and other trail projects continue to bring growth to the Lindbergh area, inSPECIAL cluding by increasing the Jennifer Ide. success of the Armour Yards redevelopment, which currently hosts Atlanta Track Club, Sweetwater Brewery and ASW Distillery, among others. “I think that’s an exciting part of my district to see some really new vibrant businesses come in there. I think that area’s only going to grow and be revitalized as the BeltLine continues there,” she said. “It’s great to see new money and energy come in to it.”
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